THORNDIKE — Liam Von Oesen ran only eight times Saturday afternoon for the Waterville football team.

Those eight carries did plenty of damage.

Von Oesen ran for 225 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out the second half, and Waterville improved to 2-0 in its first season of eight-man football with a 42-12 victory over Mount View in Thorndike.

“Our running game was amazing today,” Von Oesen said. “Our blocks were very key today, especially in the first half.”

It was more ground domination for Waterville, which opened against Dexter and had 527 yards rushing in a 60-26 victory.

“It’s nice to start 2-0. We came out the way we wanted to,” Waterville coach Isaac LeBlanc said. “We talked about, at the start of the game, just coming out firing. Take care of business and make it known pretty quickly that we can get off to a good lead and command the game from the get-go.”

It was a difficult way to start the season for the Mustangs, who had five players out and dressed only 12, and who didn’t get starting quarterback Sam Valleau back until Friday night due to COVID close contact protocol.

Waterville’s Liam Von Oesen (8) dives to catch the ball while playing defense against Mount View on Saturday n Thorndike. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I liked that we came out and played hard,” said Mount View coach Rick Leary, who got 96 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries from Valleau. “We’re definitely out of timing. … We lost five kids last week, lost three starters this week, so we just don’t have that team timing at all. That really hurt us more defensively than it did offensively.”

The Mustangs defense had trouble with the Waterville offense from the start. Von Oesen broke a 46-yard run on his first carry and the Panthers’ third play from scrimmage for an 8-0 lead, and Dawson Harrison began Waterville’s next possession with a 50-yard run that made it 16-0.

Mount View showed some life when Valleau found Brock Cassidy (four catches, 41 yards) for a 17-yard touchdown connection that made it 16-6, but there was no stopping Von Oesen and the Panthers. He raced 59 yards for a touchdown on just his second carry, and on the next series he dropped back to throw, slipped out of the pocket and outran the defense for a 68-yard touchdown and 28-6 lead with 1:44 left in the first quarter.

He wasn’t done, breaking free for a 40-yard score on the first play of the second quarter. Von Oesen’s first five carries went for 213 yards and four touchdowns, and he also found Spencer Minihan for a 49-yard touchdown pass that made it 42-6 with 9:19 left in the half.

Mount View receiver Brock Cassidy (2) can’t hold onto the ball while being defended by Waterville’s Dawson Harrison (22) on Saturday in Thorndike. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I felt amazing, and I really love our line,” Von Oesen said, referencing the unit out front of Adam Sirois, Cobe LeClair and Griffin Pelotte. “Our line blocks insanely well for me, I love it.”

“He’s just a great player,” said LeBlanc, who also got 54 yards on four carries from Harrison. “He brings a unique dynamic to the game for us, and I’m fortunate to be able to coach a player like that, especially early on in my coaching career. … He’s a good player, and our team rallies around him.”

The Mustangs played with more intensity in the second half, and found the end zone when Valleau scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter. Effort was a point of emphasis for Leary, who late in the first quarter kept his offense on the field on 4th-and-8 at the Mount View 40-yard line.

The message? Don’t quit.

“That was exactly it,” he said. “Just keep playing, every down. They wanted us to go to running time in the first half, I said ‘No.’ I know the score was up there, but I didn’t want running time. The kids have got to learn how to play, and they’ve got to learn that when they’re on the field.”

Leary was optimistic when the game was over.

“I think they’re one of the better teams in the league,” Leary said. “They played well, and I think the kids will come together and get stronger.”

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